On two days last week, I had the pleasure of talking about poetry with a class of
kindergarteners at a local elementary school. On the first day we talked all
about poetry, including different types of poems and different characteristics
of poems—rhyming vs. non-rhyming, silly vs. serious, fiction vs. non-fiction,
etc. Then we read LOTS of different types of poetry from books I’d brought with
me to the classroom. It was especially fun to read several poems from the The Poetry Friday Anthology (one of my
favorite poetry resources) aloud to the kids!
the end of our first session, I announced that we were going to write a class
poem together. First, several kids suggested topics to write about and then
they voted and decided that our poem would be about a butterfly. Next, the
class voted on whether they wanted to write a rhyming or a non-rhyming poem,
and rhyming won. Then they voted on whether to write a silly poem or a serious
poem. Silly won the vote, but by a surprisingly slim margin. Finally, with our
main points ironed out and about 15 minutes left on the clock, we started
main goal was to lead kids through a real-life poetry writing session and to
model that there is no “right” way to write a poem, so we began by brainstorming
aloud. Then together we came up with a great first line and I wrote everything
down on a large sheet of chart paper. A little farther into our writing time, the
kids decided that they wanted our poem to have a surprise ending, so I went
back and scribbled through the first line and we came up with another. As we
crafted our poem, I scribbled and crossed things out, and our words
evolved into a funny, creative, messy, beautiful poem. I explained to the kids
that this is the way writing often goes, and that it is perfectly fine to write
a “sloppy copy” and then edit your work before you present your finished
product. So when we were through writing and editing the poem together, the
kids headed out to the playground and I copied the finished poem onto a clean
sheet of chart paper. When they came back in from the playground, their cleaned-up
poem was waiting for them!
by Mrs. Mayhew and Mrs. Dixon’s kindergarten class
I felt a tickle
on my head
But had no clue
what was there,
Until my best
friend stopped and said,
“There’s a big
BUG in your hair!”
I screamed and
yelled and jumped and shook,
And waved my
hands up in the sky.
Then my best
friend said, “Oh, look!
It’s just a pretty butterfly!”
The next day I came back into the classroom and read
some more fun poems to the kids, and then we talked about acrostic poetry,
which I’d introduced during our general poetry lesson the day before. Following
this discussion, the kids each wrote an acrostic poem about their moms, most
using “mom” or “mommy” as their focus word. Later on, the teachers helped the
kids add handprints and frame the final products, and then each child took
home a special gift to his or her mom for Mother’s Day. I was thrilled with how
these precious poems turned out!
I LOVE talking to kids about poetry, and had such a
wonderful time with these sweet, brilliant children. One of my favorite things
in life is seeing children light up when being read a great poem or book, and
reading poems and stories that kids have excitedly labored over. I’ve talked
with lots of older elementary students about poetry and writing over the past
several years, but this was entirely different and definitely just as fun. One
of my favorite moments was when two little girls came and shared with me a poem
they’d just composed together—on the playground!
Awhile back I shared another poetry-writing-with-kids
experience, and you can read more about that here if you are interested.
Have a great Friday and a wonderful weekend, and Happy Writing!
Thank you to Mrs. Mayhew, Mrs. Dixon, and their
amazing kindergarten class
at Sugar Creek Elementary School for all the fun!